The league stage is complete. All 56 matches have been played.
True to form, such has been the evenness and unpredictability of this season, it took until the very last one of them to be played to finalise the final four teams that will square off in this year’s Rebel Women’s Big Bash League finals.
Semi Final 1: Melbourne Stars vs Perth Scorchers, Wednesday 25th November, 7:10 pm @ North Sydney Oval
The Stars have qualified for their maiden finals appearance in the competition and have done so in fine style.
After a number of early washouts, have set the pace for the entire competition, qualifying on top of the points table.
Led by Australian captain Meg Lanning who has been in sparkling form all tournament, and filled out by other international stars and exciting youngsters.
South African Mignon du Preez has had her best season in Green with four scores above 50 in the past five games.
English imports Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt have also had a major say in the successes of the Stars this season with contributions with both bat and ball.
Elyse Villani has enjoyed a better season with the freedom at the top of the order without the captaincy and youngsters Annabel Sutherland, Alana King and Tess Flintoff have all taken exciting steps forward in thier development under new coach Trent Woodhill.
The Scorchers’ up and down season continued on Sunday as they scraped into the final four on Sunday on net run rate following their loss to the Adelaide Strikers.
Led at the top of the order by new recruits for this season Beth Mooney and White Ferns and former Strikers skipper Sophie Devine, forming a brutal partnership opening the batting.
Mooney is the leading run scorer for the competition with 524 runs and recently passed 3000 career WBBL runs.
In all the six games the Scorchers have won this season, both Mooney and Devine have picked up the award for player of the match.
While they have scored the bulk of the runs for the Scorchers this season, they would be hoping thier middle order would have some runs in them to get them over the line should they have too.
English import Amy Jones has had a couple of games back from a quad injury now and, along with Australian Nicole Bolton, as the experience in the middle order to shoulder the load if Mooney or Devine go early.
Their bowling unit is evolving but has continued to produce great performances, restricting teams.
The Scorchers bowling has been hit and miss bit have been well led by Devine and English leg spinner Sarah Glenn.
Glenn has collected 16 wickets this season.
The emergence of quick Taneale Peschel has also added more potency to the Scorchers bowling attack along with Piepa Cleary and Samantha Betts.
Prediction: The Scorchers will be hoping Mooney and Devine get off to a flyer and then back it up with support from the middle order then take early wickets with ball in hand.
The Stars seem to have every base covered, they bat deep and have plenty of batters right down the order who can step up and make a meaningful contribution. Stars to win.
Semi Final 2: Brisbane Heat vs Sydney Thunder, Thursday 26th November, 7:10 @ North Sydney Oval
Plenty of questions were asked of the Heat in the pre-season.
How would they fare with the departures of both Beth Mooney and Sammy-Jo Johnson to rival franchises to the Scorchers and Thunder respectively, and the retirement of dual title winning captain Kirby Short.
Gun Australian International all-rounder Jess Jonassen was installed as captain as they hunt for their third title in a row.
After a patchy start, the Heat have now won seven games in a row and are charging to another finals series.
Georgia Redmayne has impressed many this year with the bat at the top of the order and behind the stumps as wicketkeeper.
Redmayne, who is one dismissal away from tying and going past the longstanding record of five dismissals in a tournament (five – Claire Koski in WBBL01), has been one of the best keepers in the tournament.
The other Georgia’s, Prestwidge and Voll have also played vital roles with both the ball and the bat.
17-year-old Voll has cemented herself in the Heat’s top order and has received huge praise from everyone with coach Ashley Noffke saying ‘it’s a given’ that she will represent her country one day.
Grace Harris’ return to the top of the order after a season down the order last year has been just the tonic for her power game to be restored.
Not to be outdone by her sister, Laura Kimmince who has displayed the full variety of power hitting and finesse, is in some explosive form in the middle order, amassing 129 runs off 49 balls combined over her last four innings.
The Thunder have found the right balance between youth and experience in thier side this season and has seen then jump back into finals after missing in recent seasons.
Skipper Rachael Haynes has led the way as always with her calm demeanour and touch with the bat.
English import Heather Knight has also enjoyed a highly productive season with the bat scoring well over 400 runs in the 14 matches.
Teenage sensation from last season, Phoebe Litchfield has built into the tournament nicely with consistent runs since linking up with the squad.
The teenager has shared her stardom with fellow rising stars Rachel Trenaman and Hannah Darlington, both vital members of this Thunder squad and what they have been able to do this year.
South African quick Shabnim Ismail has led the bowling attack with some rapid fiery spells in the powerplay.
She’s been well supported by Samantha Bates who has claimed 15 wickets this season.
Prediction: Both teams are evenly matched.
The Thunder have shuffled their batting line-up a fair bit this tournament but appear to have settled on a top order finally of Beaumont, Trenaman, Knight and Haynes.
The Heat will draw on their experience from the previous two seasons, coupled with their winning form and even contributions to take them into Saturday night’s final. Heat to win.